In fact, Vancouver’s imbibers can pour one out for the always-popular Keefer Bar, which nabbed the number two spot, behind Toronto’s celebrated Bar Raval in the top rung. This is also the second year The Keefer Bar was ranked in the second spot.
Oversize cubes, spheres, sticks, flakes and pebbles: It’s not just frozen water anymore—artisanal ice is a full-fledged cocktail ingredient
The artisanal iceman cometh, and he’s not at all cold. With a short reddish beard, bright blue eyes and a friendly face, Dex James is downright warm, as he performs what looks like a magic trick. In the Dang Good Ice storefront in the Fraserhood, he pours water on a mammoth, crystal-clear, square-sided stick of ice in a highball glass and…it disappears.
Artisan ice can be the nearly invisible ingredient that helps deliver cocktail perfection—including king cubes so beautifully clear, one of the tenders behind the Fairmont Pacific Rim lobby bar tells me that imbibers of its white Lucky Negroni frequently ask, “Where’s the ice?” Juleps with flakes or pebbles from a Scotsman ice machine, rocks drinks over chunky Kold Draft cubes or cocktails crowned with a flawless diamond or sphere are just a few of the signs of the new ice age in B.C. bars.
Another day, another competition under the belts of Vancouver’s extraordinary bartenders.
To chants of “Back to back!” on Thanksgiving weekend, Chris Enns of the Lobby Bar at the Fairmont Pacific Rim made it into the top-20 round at the Diageo Reserve World Class competition in Berlin. Australia’s Orlando Marzo took home the overall title this year, but Enns made it all the way to number eight in the world, with a trio of Vancouverites cheering him on—last year’s global winner, Kaitlyn Stewart of Royal Dinette, as well as previous World Class Canada winners Lauren Mote and Grant Sceney. “Until next time, friends,” Enns said on Facebook. “May your hearts be filled with love and your glasses filled with World Class cocktails.”
With Christopher Enns’ recent win in Montreal, that’s four times Vancouver bartenders have taken home the prestigious title of Diageo Reserve World Class Canada champion since the competition started in 2013.
Enns, who mans the shakers at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby Lounge, also recently won the Woodford Reserve Manhattan challenge in New York. “It’s been very busy, that’s for sure,” he says.
When the Hôtel Ritz Paris’s legendary barman Colin Field introduced the $1,700 Ritz Sidecar in 2001, it was considered the most expensive cocktail in the world. Since then, a multitude of bartenders have created their own lavishly priced drinks made with everything from truffles, gold dust and precious gems, to vintage spirits recovered from famous shipwrecks.
But are these ultra-premium cocktails worth their ultra-premium prices? Well, it depends — and not just on how much credit you have left on your flexible friend.